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Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) review: wearable-free sleep tracking smart display | Google

Voice Of EU



Google’s second-generation Nest Hub smart display now comes with radar-based sleep tracking as it attempts to keep Amazon’s Alexa at bay.

The new Nest Hub costs £89.99 on launch, which makes it cheaper than its predecessor and slightly undercuts competitors of a similar size.

The second-generation unit has the same design as the original but is ever-so-slightly taller. The 7in LCD screen looks great and is crisp enough for viewing at arm’s length or further, making it perfect for use as a digital photo frame. The body is now made of recycled plastic and the screen is covered in an edgeless glass, which makes it easier to wipe clean.

The display is mounted in a fabric foot that contains a louder speaker with 50% more bass than its predecessor. It sounds better than the Nest Mini, but not as powerful as the Nest Audio or similarly sized speakers.

Google Nest Hub
Tap the air in front of the display to pause the music or wave at an alarm to snooze it. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

New for the Nest Hub are the ultrasound and Google’s Soli miniature radar sensors, which enable advanced functions without the privacy implications of having a camera. Ultrasound is used to detect when people are near while increasing the size of text when you are further away.

Soli tracks movement for two features. The first is motion sense, which was first introduced on the company’s Pixel 4 phone in 2019 and tracks hand gestures to allow you to pause music, silence alarms and similar. The second is sleep tracking.

Sleep Sense

Google Nest Hub
The display can show a summary of your sleep after you wake or you can see it all in the Google Fit app on Android or iOS. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Nest Hub uses its radar to track the breathing patterns and sleep of the person lying beside it without the need for a wrist or headband. Put it on a bedside table about an arm’s length away and go to bed as normal.

The device records how long you sleep, restless periods and, optionally, how many times you cough or snore using the microphones. The data is processed locally on the Hub using built-in artificial intelligence, but then synced to Google’s long-standing health service, Fit, so you can see your data on your phone. You cannot opt out of syncing the data with Google Fit, but you can delete it or share it with other services.

The display can also show you a summary of how you slept last night or over the last week. The results were surprisingly good, recording similar length of time slept and disturbances to both wrist-based sleep tracking with a Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar and a Withings Sleep Analyzer mat underneath the mattress.

Google Nest Hub
Sleep sense only tracks the person immediately in front of the display, not a partner the other side of the bed, and it can’t differentiate between coughs and snores from more than one person. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

It does not record sleep cycles nor heart rate, which is a key health metric while sleeping, but for a non-contact sleep tracking system that requires no special gear to be worn I was impressed. It can give you tips for better sleep and help you keep a consistent bedtime, suggesting an optimised time after two weeks of tracking.

There is a potential catch, however. Sleep sensing is only in “free preview” until at least the end of the year. The firm says that it is “learning and innovating on this new technology, and also exploring how Sleep Sensing can become a part of the Fitbit and Fitbit Premium experiences” after Google’s recent purchase of the fitness tracker maker. That means Google could start to charge for some or all of the sleep-tracking feature, as it does for the advanced sleep-tracking analysis within its Fitbit Premium subscription.

Google Nest Hub
You can set ad hoc or repeating alarms, but be warned there’s no battery backup so if the power is out when the alarm should sound it won’t wake you up. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Nest Hub can do so-called sunrise alarms. Here the display gradually lights up through warm colours simulating a sunrise for a period immediately before an audible alarm to gently wake you up. It works well if you happen to sleep facing it in a dark room, but will struggle otherwise. The Nest Hub can light up third-party smart lights too for a greater effect.

Plus all the usual smart display features

Google Nest Hub
An ambient light sensor at the top adjusts the brightness and colour of the screen so that photos look true-to-life while a swipe-up quick settings panel can turn things on and off. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Nest Hub can do all of the usual smart assistant things too. It can show you recipes, searches, set timers and alarms, control a large variety of third-party smart home devices and even stream a live feed from compatible smart cameras such as Google’s Nest Hello doorbell.

It plays music and radio including BBC stations, Spotify and via Bluetooth, and can be grouped with other Google speakers for multiroom audio. You can cast video to the display like you would to a TV or Chromecast from most media apps, or play video from Netflix, Disney+ and YouTube directly. The 7in screen is only really big enough for short things or watching TV while doing something else, such as cooking.

It will also play the news, show the weather and personal information such as calendar events, your commute and other things synced with your Google account. Google Assistant can recognise an individual’s voice to give them personalised information such as their calendar or music from their Spotify. You can even do voice calls via Google Duo, but not video calls as it lacks a camera.

Google Nest Hub
There’s a physical mute switch for the three microphones on the back, plus volume buttons on the side. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian


The Nest Hub is generally repairable. The casing is made of 54% recycled post-consumer plastic, part of Google’s commitment to include recycled materials in all its products launching from 2022. The company publishes environmental impact reports for some of its products, but has yet to publish one for the updated Nest Hub. Google will recycle devices free of charge.


  • It has a Thread radio built in, which will be enabled at a later date for connecting to the next generation of new smart home devices that are in development by various manufacturers.

  • You can quickly delete your sleep data from the display for up to two hours after waking up and can pause sleep tracking with a quick-settings button.

  • The interface is generally fast enough, if not exactly snappy, but it can be a bit sluggish to respond when streaming video from a smart camera.

  • Initial setup of the Nest Hub is done through the Google Home app on Android or iPhone, and takes less than five minutes.


The second-generation Google Nest Hub costs £89.99.

For comparison, the Google Nest Hub Max costs £189, the Lenovo Smart Clock costs £34.99, Amazon Echo Show 5 costs £79.99, the Echo Show 8 costs £99.99 and the Echo Show 10 costs £239.99.


The second-generation Google Nest Hub offers quite a few features squeezed into a compact and easy-to-live-with device.

It is very similar to the first generation but the addition of radar for gestures and sleep tracking is useful. It might not record heart rate or your sleep cycle, but provides simple sleep tracking without the faff of having to wear or charge anything. Whether or not you want a Google sleep-tracking device in your bedroom is another matter.

The speaker is better, but not as good as larger smart speakers. Google Assistant is the smartest voice assistant of the bunch and the little 7in display is one of the best digital photo frames you can buy, but it can be a little sluggish here and there.

It is slightly cheaper than similar competitors, and will probably be discounted fairly soon. Meanwhile the first-generation Nest Hub is being flogged at £60 or less.

Pros: sleep tracking without bracelet or headband, good screen, decent speaker, Google Assistant, hand gestures, Cast support for video and music, BBC radio, recycled plastic, no camera for privacy concerns.

Cons: 7in screen a bit small for video, can be a bit slow at times, no camera for video chat.

Other reviews

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North Korea made ‘$400m’ in cryptocurrency heists last year • The Register

Voice Of EU



In brief Thieves operating for the North Korean government made off with almost $400m in digicash last year in a concerted attack to steal and launder as much currency as they could.

A report from blockchain biz Chainalysis found that attackers were going after investment houses and currency exchanges in a bid to purloin funds and send them back to the Glorious Leader’s coffers. They then use mixing software to make masses of micropayments to new wallets, before consolidating them all again into a new account and moving the funds.

Bitcoin used to be a top target but Ether is now the most stolen currency, say the researchers, accounting for 58 per cent of the funds filched. Bitcoin accounted for just 20 per cent, a fall of more than 50 per cent since 2019 – although part of the reason might be that they are now so valuable people are taking more care with them.

“These behaviors paint a portrait of a nation that supports cryptocurrency-enabled crime on a massive scale,” the report finds. “Systematic and sophisticated, North Korea’s government — be it through the Lazarus Group or its other criminal syndicates — has cemented itself as an advanced persistent threat to the cryptocurrency industry in 2021.”

Football fans furious after FIFA 22 after top players’ accounts taken over

Electronic Arts (EA) has confirmed that some of the top players of the FIFA 22 football (soccer in Freedom Language) game have had their accounts taken over after it dropped the ball.

“Through our initial investigation we can confirm that a number of accounts have been compromised via phishing techniques,” EA said in a statement.

“Utilizing threats and other ‘social engineering’ methods, individuals acting maliciously were able to exploit human error within our customer experience team and bypass two-factor authentication to gain access to player accounts.”

In response EA says that it has strengthened its account verification process and is training up staff to be on the lookout for behavior that indicates someone is playing foul. It says this will take time and may lead to support delays, but asks fans not to show it the red card.

US government warns of Russia and Iranian online intrusion, makes tools public

It has been a busy week for those monitoring government hacking threats, beginning with a warning from the FBI, NSA and CISA about Russian state online spies are breaking into US systems, followed by a report from US Cyber Command on Iranian online foes.

The Russians are targeting US government, energy and infrastructure companies, the first advisory warns, and are using advanced tactics to do so. The key protection is frequent logging and examination of network activity, but also watch for unexpected equipment activity like unplanned reboots, and multiple failed login attempts on accounts, they advise.

Not to be outdone, US Cyber Command released a report into an online gang called MuddyWater, which the agency says operates under the auspices of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security. It’s primarily an intelligence collection group and had been targeting other Middle Eastern states, but is now expanding operations in the US and Western Europe.

MuddyWater specialize in using open-source tools and side-loading DLLs, and they also are adept at using tunneling to shield their activities. VirusTotal have been informed and you can get the full details here.

Texans hit by QR code phishing campaign

Residents of the Lone Star state have been under sustained attack from a QR code phishing scam using traffic meters that is designed to harvest credit card information.

Police in Austin, Houston and San Antonio have warned that persons unknown are attaching fake QR codes to parking meters that redirect users to a carefully crafted phishing site. When the meter user tries to pay for their parking that are simply handing over their card information to the criminals.

What makes this form of attack particularly odd is that none of the cities targeted actually use QR codes on their meters. “We’ve talked to industry professionals who have warned us about using QR codes, and that’s why we do not utilize QR codes on our infrastructure at all,” Austin Parking Enterprise Manager Jason Redfern told Fox 7.

Still using WordPress? Plugin vulns rose 142 per cent last year

WordPress is a very popular platform but security isn’t one of its strengths, as a review of its progress in 2021 has shown.

Research by Risk Based Security found that last year the number of vulnerabilities found in WordPress plugins shot up 142 per cent, 77 per cent of them contained known public exploits and 73 per cent were remotely exploitable. While the average rating for flaws using the Common Vulnerability Scoring System was 5.5 there are still some very nasty issues out there that need to be addressed.

“There are over 58,000 free plugins for download, with tens of thousands more available for purchase,” the report warns. “Unfortunately, few of them are designed with security in mind, so one vulnerability could potentially affect millions of users.”

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Space missions to watch out for in 2022

Voice Of EU



Monica Grady of the Open University looks at plans for a rocket system destined for the moon and a new rover beginning its journey to Mars.

Click here to visit The Conversation.

A version of this article was originally published by The Conversation (CC BY-ND 4.0)

Astronomers ended 2021 on a high with the launch on 25 December of the James Webb Space Telescope, a joint mission between the European Space Agency, NASA and the Canadian Space Agency. It was a relief to hear that the precision drives that opened up the complex sunshield, which is about the size of a tennis court, worked perfectly.

The telescope is now on the way to its destination, 1.5m kilometres away from Earth, where it will begin a series of tests once it arrives in late January. If the mission goes to plan, we can expect to start receiving images from the telescope in mid-2022.

But what else lies in store for space science this year? Here are a few missions to watch out for.

Moon missions

NASA’s Artemis programme to send human astronauts back to the moon in 2024 should get underway in 2022. The last astronauts to step foot on the moon in 1972 made it there on a Saturn V rocket.

Now NASA has created a new generation of rockets, the Space Launch System (SLS), which will be tested for the first time in March with the launch of the Artemis 1 mission. This will be a three-week-long, uncrewed test flight of the Orion spacecraft, which will include a flyby 100km above the surface of the moon.

Part of a spacecraft is lifted into a testing chamber in a large room, with the NASA logo and a poster about moon exploration in the background.

NASA’s Orion spacecraft is lifted into a thermal cage for testing. Image: NASA/Marvin Smith

Eventually, the SLS will transport astronauts to the Lunar Gateway, the next-generation international space station that will be positioned in orbit around the moon and act as a way station for missions to the surface.

The moon will also be targeted by other space agencies in 2022. South Korea is hoping to launch its first lunar mission, the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, from Cape Canaveral in August. Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, plans to launch Luna 25 to the moon’s south pole in July – over 45 years since Luna 24 returned almost 200g of lunar soil in August 1976.

Psyche asteroid

Mid-2022 will be a busy time for space exploration, as NASA will also launch its Psyche asteroid mission. Psyche, which is orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter, is an M-class asteroid, made of metal, so it’s similar to the core of the Earth.

We’ve never been close to an M-class asteroid before, nor have we been able to study the core of the Earth because it’s too deep down, so once this mission arrives in 2026 it should give us a whole new understanding of asteroid and planetary processes.

DART mission

Not long after Psyche’s journey begins, the DART mission, which launched in November 2021, should arrive at its destination in late September.

DART – which stands for the double asteroid redirection test – is heading to asteroid Didymos and its moonlet Dimorphos. The goal is to test what technology it would take to save the Earth from an incoming asteroid in future. DART will deliberately crash into the smaller of the two bodies, Dimorphos, to move its orbit a little bit closer to Didymos, the larger one. This could give valuable insights into how to shift any asteroid on a collision course with Earth in the future.


2021 was a busy year for Mars missions with NASA’s Perseverance rover and the Chinese Zhurong rover, both of which continue to send back incredible images and data from the surface of the Red Planet.

In September 2022, the European Space Agency is due to launch the next part of its ExoMars mission in collaboration with Roscosmos. The first part of the mission, ExoMars 2016, sent a Trace Gas Orbiter to orbit around Mars in late 2016.

ExoMars 2022 plans to send a Mars rover, the Rosalind Franklin, to the Martian surface to look for signs of past life. If the launch goes to plan, we’ll have to wait until 2023 for ExoMars to arrive and for the rover to start roaming the surface.

All in all, 2022 is looking to be a very exciting and fruitful time for space exploration.

The Conversation

By Monica Grady

Monica Grady is professor of planetary and space sciences at the Open University.

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‘You may feel your cortisol levels declining’: why Siri should be an Irish man | Life and style

Voice Of EU



Inside my iPhone is a cornucopia of Irish men.

“It’s currently clear and 25 degrees,” Colin Farrell replies when I ask him the weather.

“A 7.45am alarm is now off,” says Michael Fassbender when I beg him for some extra sleep.

“Here’s what I found on Google,” Domnhall Gleeson cheerily answers when I screech: “I have spilt coffee all over my stovetop – how to clean white shirt and kitchen bench?” I feel like he is negging me – or playing hard to get, perhaps.

Changing my iPhone’s Siri voice to that of an Irish man has been an exercise in self-soothing. Generic American register begone; now I have a generic Irish lilt – or, if I suspend my disbelief hard enough, the rapturous musings of Colin, Michael, Domnhall, or Jamie Dornan, Cillian Murphy and Kenneth Branagh.

Niall Horan was (obviously) my preferred One Direction member as a boyband-crazy teen. As everyone swooned for Paul Mescal and his chain-sporting ways last year, I finally felt vindicated. Good old Pauly had been telling me the forecast for years.

Of course, being Irish is not the only virtue of these men. They also have great faces – which you, too, can conjure up at a moment’s notice by navigating the labyrinth of settings on your phone. The payoff is well worth it; with each gentle instruction from your personal Irish smooth-talker, you may feel your cortisol levels declining. (Your doctor may disagree.)

There are more tangible psychological ramifications to be found: a 2019 study by the United Nations revealed that the female voices of digital assistants – like Siri and Alexa – were entrenching gender stereotypes. “The speech of most voice assistants … sends a signal that women are obliging, docile and eager-to-please helpers,” the study found.

By altering your Siri’s voice setting, you are training your brain to unlearn the coded biases within its subconscious – or at least that’s what you can tell yourself.

No more women doing your bidding. Just make Ronan Keating do it instead.

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